Craft-blogging after a long time!

I started writing this blog with great enthusiasm but haven’t posted anything in the past year and a half. I’ve been doing little crafty things here and there, but have been too busy to reflect on what I’ve done and write about it. I took up a new job last year, which keeps me busier than before and I also have a much longer commute now which eats into leisure time. Plus, I have significantly ramped up dance, which is admittedly my biggest passion even though I don’t do it full-time. Oh well, I’m back because I miss writing. It’s not only the obsessive urge to chronicle and document everything that brings me back here, but also the reflective process of writing which is relaxing, refreshing and helps put things in perspective.  Enough chit-chat.

Here’s proof that having craft supplies lying around the house for months pays off eventually:

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I had this bookcase with an ugly stain on the side and I had purchased small sample-size bottles of wall-paint and varied size brushes from Home Depot to paint Warli designs on it, with great intent. The paint bottles and brushes sat next to the bookshelf for months, collecting dust and waiting to be used. Finally on a cold March weekend, when I was feeling slightly under the weather, I was thankful to have these supplies handy and undertook this ‘Tree of Life’ project along with a friend who was visiting from out of town. I must say we were quite pleased with and proud of the result. See, it pays to have craft supplies handy :)

In other news, I completed the scarf mentioned in the last post, in the spring of 2013.  I worked on it on and off for several months (more off than on :) ) and was quite relieved when it was done. I have used it a couple times already this fall but I don’t have a picture of it. I wear it with a nice maroon full-sleeved shirt and I must remember to at least take one of those cellphone selfie shots when I wear it the next time. I think it looks stylish ;)

Another project in the last year was this baby hat that I made for a niece (cousin’s daughter). I forgot to take a picture of it before I sent it to her, but her parents didn’t forget to send me a picture of her sporting it and looking super cute :)

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And finally, we did some more knitting when my mother and sister visited from India this summer.  It was some very precious quality time we spent together. Every night after dinner, we would curl up on different locations in the living room, play some old Hindi film music and and work on our separate knitting projects until one or all of us started to doze off. Mother crocheted a sweater dress, hat and booties for the above-mentioned baby with Google-guidance from my friend, Mints. Mom had done quite a few knitting projects when she was young but hadn’t held needles/hook in her hands in years now. She was very happy to get back to it. My sister’s story was a little bit like mine, as mentioned in this post – she had learnt the basics of knitting in school but didn’t care much for it then. Now, as a grown up, she was fascinated by the craft and was glad to have the time and opportunity to try it again. She very industriously looked up youtube videos for a beginner’s project and made this lovely potholder, which  I use routinely now:

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I don’t have a completed picture of mine and mom’s projects but here’s one of the three of ours projects while in progress:

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The center project is mine – a blue winter hat for myself, knitted on circular needles. It came out so-so and I hope to do a better job on the next adult-size hat I knit. On the right is the top part of the baby sweater dress mom crocheted. The finished product actually looked very cute, with pink satin ribbons and pink buttons adorning it, but I one hundred percent forgot to take a picture! I think she used this pattern.

My next knitting project will most likely be the same hat, using the same kind of yarn in gray colour (I bought both colours together), which I will give away as a gift. Since I wasn’t satisfied with the last hat, I’ll try the same pattern again and see if I can do a better job this time.

I haven’t done much beading since my first stint nor have I felt very enthusiastic about it. But now, I may have found a potential craft buddy who may be interested in beading, so let’s see if we can get something done this winter. I think picking out beads is more fun than beading itself! I have also wanted to learn sewing for a while now and have seriously considered taking classes, but I also don’t want to over-schedule and over-commit, leaving no time for reflective processes such as writing, which I have always been guilty of doing! Hope to come back after not such a long gap this time.

An attempt at wall art and new knitting projects

I have been looking for ideas to decorate my bedroom walls. A few weeks ago, a friend showed me this idea for wall art. It seemed easy enough to try and the results looked promising so I decided to give it a shot.

The step-by-step procedure and the materials used are listed on that blog so I won’t bother with those details here. I do, however, wish to make a few notes for reference —

1. I bought spray paint, foam brushes and acrylic paint from Michaels. 

2. We need craft acrylics, not artists’ acrylics. Artists’ acrylic paints are expensive  and not necessary for this simple project. Craft acrylics are about 50-60 cents a bottle.

3. There were so many different kinds of spray paints available at Michaels – it was really confusing! I finally bought one at random. It turned out to be much darker than I thought. I was hoping for a mild off-white background but what I got was a stark cream color. Oh, well.

4. When spray-painting, do it outdoors rather than indoors (irrespective of what the note on the spray can says). You do not want those fumes and mist in your house.  

I used a brown Sharpie paint pen for the branches as described in the blog. Here’s the canvas with the background and branches painted, right before I started the actual “artsy” stuff —

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I made myself a nice, warm cup of spiced chai (seen in pic), put on some music and  started “painting” using the coffee table in my living room as a desk. Since the sponge brushes I had were a combination of round and square brushes, it took me longer than expected. After about an hour and a half of mess-making, this was the final product:

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I am not particularly thrilled with the result, but not entirely disappointed either.  I’m still deciding if this is worthy of wall-mounting. Reader advice is welcome! I still think the cream color background is not working and the rest of the colors have not come together very well. Some of  the circles are not perfect round shapes because of the square brushes I used.

In other news, I have still been knitting on and off. While looking for more beginner’s level projects, I found this Skating Hat on Ravelry. I made two of these, one following the pattern exactly and the other with a different stitch but the same increasing and decreasing pattern.

Here’s one of them, in stockinette stitch:

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And that’s me, fooling around at a neighborhood cafe with a friend, on a cold February weekend :-) Here’s the other one, this time following the Ravelry pattern:

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I didn’t follow the exact yarn and gauge  — I just used whatever I had. That explains why my hat doesn’t look like theirs. Mine was 100% Icelandic wool that I bought at the Super Bowl sale at a local yarn store. Another purchase at the sale was a variegated silk-blend handspun wool yarn from Uruguay. It was so pretty, I couldn’t pass. I’m still a beginner though and I didn’t want to waste the beautiful and expensive yarn on unsuccessful projects. So I chose a simple variation of an equally simple feather and fan scarf. I am almost half way through this project  as of now —

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Since this is a major project, I may simultaneously start on other smaller projects soon. Other things on my mind include cotton dishcloths with various hard-to-follow patterns and bi-color/multicolor patterns, knitted presents for a friends baby that was born yesterday and another baby in my extended family that is due end-of-summer this year. I just acquired a pair of circular needles so a knitting-in-the-round baby hat may be a good start. I also want to try my hand at some simple embroidery on some baby blankets or bibs.

Another idea is to make wall art for the nursery using felt — it looks baby-ish and cute, is cheap and can be thrown away in a few months when baby is ready for new decor :-) Let’s see how it pans out. I will be back next month, reporting progress on the scarf and hopefully at least one other new project.

Last but not the least, here are some more beaded earrings. I am bored of this pattern of earring-making now. I need to look for some new findings for jewelry making. There are plenty of bead stores nearby — I just haven’t had the time to explore. I don’t wear much jewelry but I must admit I have really enjoyed jewelry making — there’s so much room for creativity, infinite possibilities and it’s fairly easy even for a craft-challenged person like me. Also, they make cute presents for girl friends, who can never have too many earrings. Although I am not much of a jewelry person (who am I kidding — I am not much of a crafts person either!), I have been wearing more earrings since I started making them and I’m liking it!

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More beading and the beginning of knitting

I had been thinking about making wine charms since I discovered beading last month. Last week, I stopped by the bead store on the way home from work and spent an hour picking out beads for two sets of wine charms. It’s amazing how much time you can spend doing things like these.

I was going to wait to post pictures until I had company and could open a new bottle of wine, but I got impatient :-) So, here you go… wine charms minus the wine —

Speaking of wine, there’s a lovely little neighbourhood wine shop close to where I live, called, Vinodivino.  It features wines from all over the world and their helpful staff helps you pick one out based on your preferences and food pairings. They are reasonably priced as well. My friends and family reading this — When you visit my corner of the world, I promise you a home-cooked dinner, a nice wine from Vinodivino and we can go out for dessert at Finale or Athan’s. Is that incentive enough to start looking for flight tickets? :)

In other news, I recently started knitting again. By again, I mean after middle school. I learned to knit as a part of our school curriculum (which by the way, was very sexist since boys learned gardening/paper crafts instead of knitting) and I absolutely hated it. I wasn’t bad at it, but wasn’t great either. I think I just hated it because I had to do it and complete it within a certain time. When I decided to try knitting again, I sort of surprised myself  (and my sister who whole-heartedly shared my hatred for this craft!).  Taking inspiration from a friend, I started slow and made four square tea coasters:

The ones seen in the above picture (tied with a ribbon bow) are made using seed stitch  with an odd number of stitches. I also tried a few other stitches such as garter stitch, stockinette stitch , and a basket weave. But seed stitch looked the best of all, so I made a set of four.

I also made two bookmarks, but realized they were too thick to be inserted into books and would probably wreck the weak binding of paperbacks. So bookmarks isn’t a viable knitting project, until maybe I learn to crochet with thinner yarn.

Graduating to the next level, I wanted to practice reading and following a pattern.  I started knitting this simple chevron pattern and after several mistakes and corrections, ended up with a square trivet that looked like this:

Last but not the least, a few more earrings I made yesterday:

I gave away most from the last batch to family and friends, so I needed a few new ones in stock as emergency gift-options!  Handmade gifts are the best, aren’t they?